La Viñuela in the Axarquía. E. Cabezas
Axarquía town hall issues drought reminder after residents challenge water bills
Drought crisis

Axarquía town hall issues drought reminder after residents challenge water bills

Locals have been reminded of a change in a bylaw reducing the consumption per inhabitant in line with a decree issued by the Andalusian regional government

Eugenio Cabezas


Tuesday, 14 November 2023, 19:08

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La Viñuela town hall in the Axarquía, which is at the centre of a dispute with around 20 residents who have received water bills in some cases exceeding 40,000 euros, has sent out letters to residents reminding them of the drought situation and of a change in a bylaw reducing the consumption per inhabitant in line with a drought decree issued by the Andalusian regional government.

"Drinking water for domestic consumption is a basic necessity and currently in very short supply," the letter, which is signed by the Mayor of La Viñuela, José Juan Jiménez starts. It continues: "The supply contracted by you is of a domestic nature, in which a consumption of between 150 and 200 litres per person per day is considered normal and sufficient, some 36 cubic metres per quarter for a house with two inhabitants.”

British residents Jody Radley, 47 and Malcom Butt, 59, who bought their house in La Viñuela in 2020, have received a bill for 971.99 euros for the consumption of 281 cubic metres, corresponding to July, August and September of this year. Their house has a small pool and a 600-square-metre garden, which has no lawn and a few olive trees. However, they claim that they only spent one month in the house and that their water consumption was “very rational, without filling the pool or watering the garden".

Abnormal use

"We filled the pool with a bucket, which cost us more than a thousand euros," said Radley, who described the situation as "horrendous and desperate". She went on to say, "My husband was at the town hall last week and they told him that the readings were correct and that we had to pay. It seems that because we are foreigners, we can pay such high amounts.”

"We are all aware of the drought and we see how the reservoir is, nobody can believe that these amounts have been used. Surely it is down to reading errors due to air entering the pipes and there was a lot of pressure in the pipes," said Radley, who has received the letter from the town hall.

The letter from the town hall goes on to say, "You are warned that this local administration is obliged to take measures if it detects abnormal use, which could lead to the supply being cut off".

Radley and Butt concluded, "Not only are they not giving us a solution to the bills that are nonsense, absolute madness. It is impossible that we have consumed such quantities of water in such a short time, but now they are threatening to cut off our water supply.”

Similar case

The affected residents who have appealed to the town hall and not paid the bills as yet have found a case through the Andalusian Ombudsman relating to 2011 in the town of Écija in Seville. Erroneous readings were detected after air entered the pipes as a result of pressure problems in the network and Ecija town hall had to rectify the bills.

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